Santa Clara County isn't playing along with the state's new stadium-reopening guidelines, declining to allow fans to watch the 49ers play anytime soon. 49ers president Al Guido seemed to hold out hope that the team and the county can work together to achieve this goal, according to the Mercury News.
On Tuesday, October 20th state health officials gave some hope to South Bay sports fans during the state’s daily coronavirus briefing.
Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly issued several new guidelines and reopening rules for counties in the lower "Red" and "Orange" tiers, signaling a big improvement in the overall COVID-19 situation.
Outdoor sports stadiums can reopen to fans, Ghaly said, in counties that are in the state’s Orange tier for reopenings, which Santa Clara currently is. Ghaly said they would be able to operate at 20% percent capacity, and under several other restrictions.
For instance, only people living 120-miles from stadiums would be able to buy tickets. The state believes that would stop people from traveling out of state to see games that would minimize long-distance spread.
The other things we are already used to would also be required like masks at all times, except when you are at your seat with food or drinks. There would also be no tailgating allowed.
While Levi’s Stadium may be eligible to start hosting fans under these rules, as we have seen now for weeks in other NFL markets, the county shut that down almost immediately.
County health officials sent out a press release to local media outlets saying:
“Audiences at professional sporting events will not be allowed anytime soon in Santa Clara County, and theme parks will not resume operation. We must all continue to prioritize reducing the spread of COVID-19, creating conditions that will allow our businesses, schools, and other community organizations to operate safely. As we see COVID-19 rates rising in states across the U.S., and as we enter the winter months when risk will increase, we cannot take chances with the health and wellbeing of our community and forfeit the many sacrifices that have been made to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
The county went even further, holding a press conference later in the afternoon to cement the point that opening stadiums would not be happening.
Santa Clara County Chief Executive Officer Dr. Jeff Smith had several choice words to say to the cameras to describe what putting fans in the stadium would be like. “Putting an audience in a stadium in large groups is just asking for trouble. It's just a petri dish. We're going to see a super-spreader event. No question this is dangerous. This is the worst thing in the world to be doing. At a time when California is beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel, this is another step backward," Smith said.
The 49ers, who never seem to see eye to the city or county of Santa Clara, seemed to agree with the state that it would be safe for fans to enjoy the last four home games of the season at Levi’s Stadium.
The 49ers tweeted out a response thanking Governor Gavin Newsom for his leadership and for his desire to restart economic activity.
But in the end, the county’s word is king, so there will be no live 49ers games for fans for now — though an argument might get made again if Santa Clara advances to the Yellow tier, indicating "minimal" virus spread, in the coming weeks, as San Francisco just did on Tuesday.